'Gadhafi May Use Chemical, Biological Weapons Against Libya Unrest'

Speaking to Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, Libya's former minister says beleaguered dictator may turn to the country's estimated 9.5 tons mustard gas stockpile.

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Libyan Leader Muammar Gadhafi may resort to using biological and chemical weapons as a last resort amid the country's escalating and violent unrest, Al Jazeera quoted a former Libyan minister as saying on Friday.

Former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Galil told the broadcaster Al Jazeera that Gaddafi had those weapons and would not hesitate to use them against civilians.

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi gestures with a green cane as he takes his seat behind bulletproof glass for a military parade in Green Square, Tripoli, Libya, September 1, 2009.Credit: AP

"At the end when he's really pressured, he can do anything. I think Gadhafi will burn everything left behind him," he warned late Thursday.

The regime is known to still possess substantial quantities of mustard gas. Gadhafi agreed in 2003 to dismantle Libya's nuclear and chemical weapons program, and has destroyed about 50% of its chemical weapons, but due to delays is still believed to have stockpiled 9.5 tons of mustard gas.

In a speech Thursday, Gadhafi blamed terrorist network al-Qaeda for 10 days of anti-government protests threatening to unravel his 41-year-long grip on the country.

His comments were made as several northern cities were captured by the opposition, and dozens of Libyan diplomats and security members defected to side with the protesters.

Estimates by international groups and diplomats of the number of people killed by Gadhafi's security forces range from 600 to 2,000.

Troops loyal to Gadhafi shot peaceful protesters in the town of al-Zawiya Thursday evening, killing at least 100 Al Jazeera reported, quoting witnesses.

They were trying to kill the people, not terrify them," the witness said.

At least 390 people were killed in clashes between protesters and forces loyal to the Libyan regime in the city of Benghazi alone, said Nuri al-Obeidi, a security chief who switched sides and joined the protesters, who meanwhile control Libya's second-largest city.

Some 1,300 people were injured in Benghazi, he added.

Al-Obeidi said 90 people had been freed from a prison camp found in the base of an army unit led by Chamies al-Gadhafi, one of the sons of the Libyan leader. Among them were deserters who had refused to fire on protesters.

"The city is safe now," al-Obeidi said. "The youth is protecting the water and power supply."

In the city of Torbuk, protests continued late Thursday with demonstrators demanding an end to Gaddafi's rule. According to the local hospital four civilians had been killed and 27 injured since the anti-government forces took over the city.

Rebels killed at least 200 mercenaries in the north-eastern city of Al-Baidha, a local policeman said, claiming that the regime had offered the foreigners 12,000 dollars for every protester they killed.

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